Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dining Out in TC: The Little Fleet and Bardon's Wonder Freeze

9-19-13 night on the town
When it's 75 degrees in late September up here in Traverse City, people are OUT. I mean, like, really out. Sam and I don't dine out very often (we enjoy the frugality and recipe flexibility of cooking our meals probably five or six days a week), but when it's this gorgeous outside, we deserve to treat ourselves.
Our instinct when it's warm and sunny outside is to go to The Little Fleet. This business venture is already a gold mine in a place like TC but the entire venture is so tastefully and beautifully done. The atmosphere is serene yet social, quirky but comfortable. It is easily one of our favorite places to go in town, and we make an event of it because it's so nice to just sit down and relax.
The bar serves up drinks and the parking lot is open for food trucks of all kinds to pull up, park, and serve up deliciousness. Already it is one of the most popular places in town, and for very good reasons. It is hard to describe it as anything other than just totally awesome.
9-19-13 little fleet sky9-19-13 little fleet bar9-19-13 little fleet inside
Both inside and outside boast a warm and welcoming ambiance. We were lucky enough to visit on vinyl night (BYOV and they'll spin it while you drink and dine!), so the tunes were as good as the food.
I've stuck to The Anchor Station almost exclusively, because their falafel is fantastic. If I could, I wouldn't eat anything else ever. There is only one other place in town that I know makes a killer falafel, but The Anchor Station's dish is definitely up there.
9-19-13 anchor station
On this particular night, though, I had finished a tough workout and was positively famished, so I went all-out on a French Onion Grilled Cheese from EZ Cheesy. Sam picked up the falafel (seriously, it's so good even a omnivore chooses to eat it over meat) and an order of fries, and our feasting began. I am a shameless food-sharer--my best guy friend nicknamed me Mo "Are You Going To Finish That?" Stych--so I was glad I could grab a few bites of Sam's felafel...and though I wasn't as willing to give up precious bites of my grilled cheese, I did share with him. 
9-19-13 grilled cheese9-19-13 little fleet falafel9-19-13 fries
After fully stuffing ourselves, we decided it was likely going to be the last warm day we will have until autumn settles in and the ice cream shops close. So we hit-up an east-side staple on our way home (and yes, it actually was "on the way home," so it was practically a necessity): Bardon's Wonder Freeze.
9-19-13 bardons9-19-13 bardons outside
I have been visiting Bardon's for as long as I can remember: after little league games, during lunch when I was in high school, on the drive home if it was scorching hot, or following a long day soaking in sunshine at the beach. It is at a popular crossroads close to town, and it's nearly a guarantee to see someone you know there. Sam and I always split a "flurry," changing the mix-ins every time. We plop ourselves down at our favorite picnic table on the north side of the building and watch the cars pass while we talk about whatever's on our mind. It's amazing how many great conversations emerge when you're sharing ice cream with someone you love; I think that must be a universal truth.
Get out and enjoy the rest of these warm Indian summer days while you can!
(This post was based on a post originally published on my personal blog)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You, Me, and NMC! - Annual Drive

Hi everyone! Sorry for the short hiatus on my postings (thank you to John for being a trooper and getting content out this last month! You're the best!). I was pretty busy getting married, which was fantastic, beautiful, and also something I am very happy to tuck away in the "memories I will keep forever" file in my brain instead of stressing about it. But, now I'm back!

Last year I had the opportunity to participate in the Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) Annual Fund donation drive through my employer. Essentially it's a time when community members come together and gather funds through a series of telephone fundraising nights. We reach out to former NMC alumni and people in the area to give to NMC and help bolster scholarship funds, make higher education more affordable, and retain valuable educators in our town.

I am excited to be apart of my employer's fundraising team again this year for the 2013 annual campaign, called You, Me and NMC! My Northwestern Bank colleagues and I were invited to an campaign kick-off event this week at NMC's Great Lakes Maritime Academy. I was already excited about meeting other campaigners at the kick-off event, but I truly relish any chance to visit the Maritime Academy. I mean, look at this place!

The NMC Maritime Academy sits right at the base on West Bay, close to downtown and shining like a true gem. If anyone else who's lived in TC for many years remember the old Maritime Academy building (essentially a giant beige brick that sat, literally, right alongside the road and obscuring the panoramic view of the water), then I hope you feel the same pride and awe that I do every time I pass the Maritime Academy now. It is positively breathtaking. As a resident of TC I am thrilled that so much consideration was given to the beauty of the views and scenery of this prime location in TC. Don't believe me? Check out these views...straight from Lobdell's restaurant where we had dinner for the kick-off event.

I mean, it's decent (!!!). Oh, yeah, and the food was delicious, too.

Sara Noverr Harding and Bill Marsh Jr., the co-chairs for the campaign this year, spoke about the annual fund and this year's mission to reach out to everyone in the community who has been affected by NMC in some way. As it turns out, this is pretty much everyone in the area. NMC is a school, but it is so tightly woven into our region that it's hard to not have it impact life up here. I volunteer weekly at the Dennos Museum Center, located on the NMC campus; Sam is starting his MBA through the NMC University Center next month; I am looking to take classes on web design and gardening through their Extended Education program. So, NMC certainly makes a difference in my life!
Sara Noverr Harding and Bill Marsh Jr.
Additionally, there was a great video about this year's campaign that highlighted student stories and the mission behind both NMC and the annual fund. It was informative and well-done (I wish I had a link to share it with you). Plus, some of the students that were featured in the video made it to the kick-off event and we could chat with them and hear their stories one-on-one, which really helps put a face to what we'll do during our telethons. Realizing that the small actions we make and the little bit that we can give of our time, money, or resources impacts people living in my hometown is why I participate in the annual campaign. I was glad we could meet some of the people who benefit directly from what we do!

If you'd like to get involved in the annual fund campaign, you can click here and learn more. Or, if you'd simply like to share your story about NMC (if you're feeling creative, see if you can even do it in six words)! I am looking forward to getting to know my Northwestern Bank colleagues through the campaign and helping NMC in the process. Here we go!
Part of my NW Bank team...woo!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

King of the Mountain Race!

Hello everyone!

After being back in the US for just over a year, I signed up for my first endurance race, King of the Mountain. Mt. Holiday together with the US Air Force and Race Director Matt Myers, Created a a 5k race that included 20 strategically placed military style obstacles all over Mt. Holiday Ski Resort. I wasn't too sure what I was getting myself into and the course did not disappoint. A well designed and planned course, it challenges you both mentally and physically with an extremely tough terrain and moments where mental focus is key.

Check out the race video! Be sure to watch at 6:16 where you'll see me and my buddy Adam going through the mud pit!

It was their third annual event and recruited 62 individual participants (Lone Warriors) and 24 four-person teams (Recon Team) for a total of 158. I ended up placing 29th with a time of 41:05. Not too bad considering the race included running up and down Mt. Holiday five times. Here's the course and some photos from the event. Definitely needed a shower after this race!
Not too fun running up and down this hill multiple times!
Here are 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers. Keegan Myers took 1st place with an insane time of 24:51
15 foot wall to get over
Ohh yea, don't mind that Drill Sergeant screaming at you while you're in the mud pit!
Over/under log obstacle
Me in the mud! Drill Sergeant's favorite quote "This ain't a pool, get outta the water!!!"

Here is me crawling through the mud pit at the finish line!